February 24th 1994, police officers digging in the back garden of
25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester made the first of what would be
a series of grisly discoveries.
found the remains of Heather West, the daughter of Fred and Rose
West, who had not been seen since 1987.
Police eventually found a total of 12 young women's bodies - at
Cromwell Street, at nearby Midland Road and in a field at Much Marcle
in North Gloucestershire.
West hanged himself at Winson Green jail on New Year's Day, 1995,
before he could stand trial.
for troubled young people have improved
West was convicted of 10 murders and is now serving a life sentence.
surprisingly the West case is a period that Gloucester would prefer
Dunblane, Hungerford and Lockerbie, the events was so shocking there
were fears that the city would be inextricably linked in people's
minds with that dark time.
one dreamed good could come out of such horror - but lessons have
been learned and applied from the tragedy.
persons helplines reported a huge increase in the number of inquiries
after the case.
efforts have been made to make sure vulnerable young people, the
kind the Wests preyed upon, were tracked and monitored better.
between different agencies were also improved in a bid to ensure
missing people don't slip through the net as the West victims did.
short, procedures have been tightened so that fewer young people
who have left home for whatever reason 'disappear' - in the hope
that tragedy on the scale of the Cromwell Street case could never
occur unnoticed again.
such legacy of hope has been the ASTRA project, set up in 1997.
- the name is short for Alternative Solutions To Running Away -
provides support, advice and information to young people in Gloucestershire
up to 18 years old who have run away - whether from a family home,
foster home or from a residential unit.
was set up in 1997 to help potential runaways
is key. "We won't tell anyone unless you say it is OK - unless
you are in great danger," young people are told.
also provides a family support service for parents or carers of
young runaways or potential runaways.
itself, has moved on, too. A survey carried out by BBC Radio Gloucestershire
in Birmingham, Ipswich and Oxford found people no longer connected
the city with the Cromwell Street episode.
what they associated with Gloucester, people said Dr Foster, the
Docks, the Cathedral, rugby - not one said Cromwell Street or the
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